From “Born From Blood:” How to Pan

KIGALI, Rwanda, 26 July 2014 — I traveled really light on this trip to Rwanda, carrying only my iPhone and no other gear. No tripod. So it was nice to know how to make a fairly steady pan when I saw the opportunity.

I visited a community project in the Rwandan capital, shooting my central character as she showed me around a city that I hadn’t visited since 1996. And a pan shot of the work, the people and the location, seemed appropriate.

So to make a pan with no tripod I suggest: Find something on which to stabilize yourself. A wall. A pole. A car bumper. Anything that will help keep you and the camera stable. Take position at the point where you want to END the pan. Then twist your body to where you want to BEGIN the pan. In this case, I twisted my body to the right. Hit the “Record” button and allow your body to relax and just flow from right to left. As your muscles relax, your body will move smoothly to the end point of the pan.

Pushing your way INTO the pan is counter-productive, in that your muscles are straining (as opposed to relaxing) and this results in unsteadiness. Check out this shot to see what I mean. Click HERE.

These are some of the lessons that I’ve picked up during nearly 40 years in the field, and that I teach both at American University and in my Video Workshops. For more information see

For my ONLINE course, see